Truffle Hunting with the The Hairy Bikers – live in Somerset
Would I like to do a truffle hunt for the Hairy Bikers next television series? Wow! I would love to. Admittedly I could have been asked at a better time, for instance, when there were some truffles around, so I pleaded for a time delay.
In England we are used to hearing the phrase “rain stopped play”, but with truffles, rain starts play, or at least it starts the truffles growing. Folklore tells us to go truffle hunting two weeks after a good downpour. In the south of England this year, raindrops, let alone downpours, have been few and far between. Hmmm. As the filming date approached, we were beginning to find the odd truffle here and the odd truffle there. Not exactly enough to have me brimming with confidence.
Obviously, I had been combing all my known truffle areas and, even at the eleventh hour, looking for new ones too. Some local landowners had been terribly kind and generous to me, giving me access to fresh areas. In fact it was a new woodland that we used for filming. Close to the road for easy access with cameras, yet beautiful, undulating and wonderfully private within.
The filming day arrived.
There is quite a lot of preparation for each filming section, fixing the microphones, checking the light levels and putting a mini plan into our minds. We started in the Dog School, then the Truffle Orchard. We are often asked to ’do that bit again’ and it’s amazing how hard it is to remember what you have just done! Mufti always rises to the occasion, the little diva. She quite rightly considers herself to be the star but she does tend to get over excited as the day goes on. I think my favourite piece of filming was when we tried to get a close-up of her tail wagging as she sat waiting for a command. I do hope it doesn’t get edited out.
Of course it was soon time for the truffle hunt itself. People always think I’m full of confidence, but in a situation like this my heart stays firmly in my boots. There is so much opposition in the world of truffles, mainly coming from badgers, rabbits and squirrels, they have the upper hand for opportunity, inasmuch as they live on the job, and obviously find truffles just as delicious as we do. Just supposing they had gobbled down every last one the day before? Agonising thoughts.
Well, the BBC will never be able to complain about Mufti wasting time. A half circle to pick up some scent, then in, and down. Truffle Number One. The hardest part of the task was to keep Mufti in the same place until the camera caught us up. She likes her wages there and then! After a couple of close ups we decided to do some more hunting and it was here that Mufti nearly caught us all out. She normally charges off and I follow some distance behind, but this time she leapt into the air and came down a couple of yards from where we were all standing. It took us a couple of seconds to realise that this was Truffle Number Two. She continued working in ultra efficient mode and after Truffle Number Four, my relief/happiness/pride was complete. None of the truffles were outstanding, but my remit was to find them, and that’s what we did.
The last part of the filming was a great treat for all of us. We drove directly to Orlando Murrin’s beautiful country hotel and restaurant at Langford Fivehead. The truffles were safely delivered into the kitchen while we sipped Champagne and waited for the most delicious of truffle suppers. Thank you Orlando.
Not bad work if you can get it.
This series will be shown in November 2011 and is titled, “Times of Plenty”